Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Uganda Day 1: You must dream it first and then give it some thought for it to come to pass

In route to Entebbe, my flight went over England. Back up... When I left England there was a giant hole in my heart. It literally took me 6 solid months to regroup. It may sound funny, but I went through every emotion of mourning during that time. But I was certainly over that by the time my United Airlines flight entered into British airspace all those many months later... so I thought. As I watched the television prompter chart our path over the British Isles I learned that I have a forever hole that months away could not fill. Giddy excitement and floods of suppressed memories surfaced and it was all I could do to not lift the latch on the emergency door and drop myself out of the plane and onto the mother land. I had to remind myself that my life was pretty amazing pre-England and that while my English peeps lit up my life, I also had a crazy wild good life post- England... and that day I was fulfilling a life dream that I had envisioned over and over again since I was only a decade old. But I still wanted to get out and drive-by Selby on my way. Ha! The layover in Amsterdam was perfect for stretching and refocusing. It was dark when we got to Entebbe but that didn't stop the welcome committee from coming to greet us! I'm not sure if it was too late or just another miracle in the books but airport security let us through customs with all of our bags sans the regular fees on humanitarian goods. I'm going to chalk it up to more miracles.
Doracus, Steven, Joseph, Agnus, Christine, Godfrey and a half dozen more friends and a few children opened their arms like we hadn't seen them in ages. The night air was warm and the palm trees provided a deceiving vacation oasis feeling that was supported most by the inability to see much more in the dark of night. We piled in Godfrey's van with open windows and drove to our accommodations. Through my delirium flight fatigue, All I could think of was, "do I have enough deet in my bug-spray?" and "Did I take my malaria meds today?" Next memory was waking up to foreign sounds, under mosquito net, smelling camp fire. Still trying trying to figure out where I was, I knew for certain that it was not home.
Rumor has it, monkeys loved the forest behind our rooms before the Government cut them down to provide firewood for the villagers. However, during my sponge shower (where I mixed the cold tap water with the buckets of camp fire boiled water to bath in) I felt like I was in a zoo with the noises coming in the window. The intrigue factor couldn't have been higher. Everything I looked at was new. I didn't know if something was dangerous or safe, what was growing on the trees or how I would contact or trust another soul if I found myself in a predicament. As vulnerable as I was, I couldn't have been more at peace... more accurately, I was so curious and so full of brain over-stimulation that I probably missed my vulnerability all together.
Wouldn't you believe it... I had 20 questions about everything... "what is that?" you ask? (answer) papyrus.
While I am aware that bananas grow in the USA, it is still uncommon place for me to just see them growing on the sides of the road so it was exciting. In fact, all the vegetation that was uncommon or completely foreign really had me swooning!
I didn't find it much a surprise that third world countries have dirt roads even though I didn't think about how they were affected from the rain storms... the muddy mess plus cars driving on them made for an adventure I didn't anticipate. I expected mud huts with shake roof, but was surprised by the brick neighborhoods with tin pieces for cover.
These were some of the sights we saw on the drive to the bank where an armed guard stood outside while we exchanged our hundreds of U.S. dollars making us instant Ugandan millionaires.
It didn't feel as cool as you might think while viewing the women out laboring in the garden with a baby on her back or the small child carrying 5 gallon containers of water back to her camp fire. I learned that "Ma zoon goo" (surely not the spelling but definitely how it sounded) means "white man" and I was easily identified with my blonde hair blowing around outside the car window. I especially loved hearing it in child like screams when I waved at the little ones who were absolutely curious and excited about us! A few hours in a van, windows down, on a dirty road was like days of education. All that on our way to do a water project...

Uganda... the Back Story...

As a child I don't recall watching much television... EVER. But somewhere in the late 80's I recall watching a 'Sunday Night at the Movies' and a commercial came on. I could support A very frail and hungry child with an extended belly and flies buzzing around him, in Ethiopia, for only $1 a day. I was so on board. Shortly thereafter I couldn't get enough of "feed the world" blaring on my ghetto blaster. Truly I had a determination that burned a desire to find Africa and serve these hungry babies before I die. Little did I know that my very own Nate would aspire to building water systems for under developed villages all over the world... When I learned such a thing I was certain that together had a worthy goal to work towards; Water to Africa. After leaving South Carolina and moving to Utah in December 2015, I found Tiffany. She was in my ward at church. I admired her first for her blunt honesty. You never have to wonder where you stand with somebody who is honest in their conversations and feelings. For me, this establishes a 'safe zone' and 'safe' friend. I drew strength from her determination to overcome. I loved her ability to put into words the feelings that were in her heart and I was inspired by the depth of her testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and her understanding of her place in Heavenly Father's plan. And then I learned that she goes to Africa to do humanitarian work. OH! MY! WORD! Game OVER! Funny thing, she was planning a humanitarian expedition for November 2016 and I knew that I had to be on it. The back story of my life in 2016 didn't support a this event for me. We had just opened our own company a year earlier so financially we were using all of our money... however, I knew that a whole lifetime couldn't make up such an opportunity. While timing couldn't have been worse, it really couldn't have been better. And so I booked myself on the Global Life Vision Uganda tour and committed to myself, my family, my Heavenly Father and to Tiffany that I would be there. It did not disappoint.
Miracle Doors opened. Miracle windows opened. Miracle people happened. Truly, that was kinda the theme of 2016 for my entire family. While our world seemed to be falling around us, we just kept seeing miracle after miracle pop into our life... so the Uganda tour was par for the course. In the Salt Lake airport I had plenty of time between check in and boarding. The woman at the front desk allowed me a free bag because I told her it was full of humanitarian kits for girls in Africa. She totally waved the baggage fees. After a true blonde hour and a half of reading books and watching election news in the wrong terminal I had the thought to check my flight and realized that I was about to miss mine. I sprinted across the airport to a different terminal only to find that my name had been called multiple times and I was the last on the plane that was closing the doors as I ran up. Sheesh... that was CLOSE! TO my surprise and delight, my torn I.T band in my knee had been so painful that I could hardly walk for the previous 3 months, which in turn pulled my hip out and wreaked havoc on lower back... somehow it magically repaired, swelling went down and I enjoyed 2 weeks absolutely pain free. I like to think of it as Divine intervention... after all, you can't get ahead of the Lord.

Friday, November 13, 2015

A life long lived... not long enough

This is a dang long post...
Last night my Grampsydoodledandy stepped through the veil. I did not think it would be this hard. I really didn't. He had fallen months before and hit his head. It left him with walking trouble and some memory lapses so I know that he didn't love that part of his life but he lived it with grace. I am closer to my Grandpa Ed and Grandma Della, more so than any of my other grandparents. As a young child my family didn't live by any of my grandparents and we only saw them on holidays and special occasions. As I got older, my funny grandpa Woolf (mom's dad) came to stay with our family because he couldn't live alone. He was a lot of fun! His spicy mouth and hot temper secured himself a lot of time alone... which he actually wanted anyway. He had suffered a debilitating head injury while my mother was young and so he didn't interact with us much but he still knew what he wanted! He watched TV ALL. DAY. LONG. year and year out. My favorite part of him living with us is when he would flip me a nickel a say, "go get yourself a treat". Made me laugh as I realized that he hadn't been to the store in years... a nickel couldn't even get me a phone call home at that point. His grocery list was frame worthy. "grandpas cookies, Butterfinger beebies and 2x4x1 block of cheese." (insert laughter because I always thought it would be so hilarious to take my measuring tape with me to the store for his cheese log.) One day we came home and Gramps had decided to recharge his batteries in a fry pan on the kitchen stove. He was so patiently waiting for them to get their charge back. (Mom nearly wet herself.) When his room stunk we would usually find the old food he didn't want to eat molding in the chair cushions or hiding in the closet. He must have been trying to grow his own mold... that was his fav trick. It made my mother quiver. Shower time was no good! It had to be scheduled a week in advance and at least 30 minutes after he ate because he wasn't going in the water on a full belly! I saw my parents love and serve him until the day he died in their home. At his funeral I realized that he was more than his disabled old and frail body had become. He adorned a purple heart for an injury that he braved while fighting in WWII. He was so handsome in his younger years. He had 6 beautiful children who are all great people. He had an impressive ancestry and I am thankful to him for giving life to my angel mother. When grandpa Woolf died I had only been married for a short time; 5 months. I had been asleep for a few hours that night and he came to me in a dream to let me know that he loved me. It was short but burned a memory on my heart that I will not soon forget. While living in Texas Granny Goose passed away. Just a few months prior to that October day, I spent an afternoon with her. She did not look like she felt well at all... but she smiled and played with my little Bailey while Bailey played with her Oxygen tubes. Granny Goose loved her flowers and her camping trips with her siblings and their children. When I was younger we spent every Christmas morning with Granny goose for breakfast. It was so fun to wake up early and then go down to Salt Lake. Many times it was snowy through Sardine Canyon and mum would sing, "Over the River and Through the Woods". I used to close my eyes and pretend I was on a horse drawn sleigh... heaven only knows that it was cold enough to believe I was outside. (the car never heated up until Brigham City... Thank you Logan UT!) As soon as we stepped from the car, at granny's, the smell of bacon whipped my nostrils and the laughter of my aunts Ginger and Betty welcomed us in. Grandma was always making hot cakes in her apron and hollering for somebody to set up tables. As we got older Granny couldn't do much. The gout got her. I used to drive down from USU to see her. Watching her take in her daily dose of "The Young and the Restless" was drama at its finest! Absolutely hilarious! I would head over to Einstein Bagels and get her a cinnamon pecan bagel with Carmel cream cheese smothered on top and a coffee. Her face would light up when I walked in. My favorite memory of Granny Goose was the heartfelt gratitude that she had for me when I would plant her flowers. It became a game for me. I loved to buy flats of flowers for her garden because of her epic response. Grandma-Great (we called her).. Nate's Grandma Ethel Mecham, was undoubtedly a grandparent in every word and deed. Two months and Four days prior to her 100th birthday, Grandma Mecham finally got her wish to see Grandpa. She did not want to live to 100! While she made it a point to let everyone know that she was surely forgotten by the angels before her, she still made every effort to hold family gatherings, she attended every event and though she couldn't tell you how many grands and great- grands she had, she could tell you every one of their names and birthdays by memory. We told her that if she wanted to die she needed to get out of her garden and off her exercise bike! I don't think she ever did. She had dinner ready for us every time we walked through the door and she kept her lower cupboards stalked so the babies could reach the cookies. Let me tell you... she was a fairy god mother type of grandma! One night she invited us for prayer and while we all sat there she got down on her worn out knees. The memory of that prayer makes me emotional even today. She had few visitors and a humble home, all the friends her age had died and she so wanted to be with them. But she poured out her heart in gratitude for all the blessings of her life. She prayed with power for each of her children and for my family. She must've prayed for 10 solid minutes.... Nothing asked for herself. Then we all stood up and grandma (who was near the stairs in the back room) crawled over to the banister and pulled herself up. We seriously would've helped her but she insisted on the banister. Nothing in her house was more sacred than her relationships with her family and friends and we all knew it. What an angel. Today I live in her house and when I was moving in I could feel her presence very strong. She is delighted that I am here! Even a decade after her mortal body was laid to rest, she continues to love and serve her family from another place. Quiet little Grandma Woolf passed away, on a warm July, after what seemed like an eternal battle of life. What a silent strength and example of long suffering. As a child we didn't see her much. All I knew was that she had a serious green thumb and little parakeet that flew freely through her pioneer home. Grandma Woolf didn't talk but she laughed a lot! My dad would tease all 4 feet of her petite frame and she would chuckle and giggle for several minutes. When it came to conversations, however, Grandma was quite reserved. I inherited her very face. When I look at pictures of my Grandma Woolf I see my own resemblance. I sure hope I also get her beautiful white hair! Grandma lived with my parents, at the end of her life, until my mother couldn't take care of her any longer... that's when she went into a care center. I know she loved to collect Avon Jewelry and china dolls. She had the most random collection of nick naks and I loved to look at them. Her life was full of hard work as she supported her family and herself for the great majority of it... But even still, she was never bitter about her lot. Grandma Woolf, So soft in her words but so generous with her kind smiles and sweet demeanor... What an angel lady. And now I've arrived to today... My Grampsydoodledandy decided that 93 years was enough. He absolutely wore out his life in service. Like I said, I didn't live near my grandparents so I saw them on holidays and special occasions... except Grampsydoodle. He and Grandma Della would come see me and my family for no reason at all except to take us out to eat and check in. He NEVER asked me for anything but a visit. While I was at USU I would take my roomies and go down and stay at his humble abode by the river and we would usually stay up late listening to stories. Grampsydoodledandy didn't ever talk small talk. He detested it! So every conversation had value and was fortified with wisdom. Over the last year I have had the honor to take care of my Grandpa on a few occasions... nothing like grandma Della does (she treated him like a KING!)... but here and there I stayed with him. One night I put him in bed and kissed his forehead and he patted my hand... then with every ounce of strength left in him that day he slowly got out the words, "I love you". Two seconds later he was asleep. I found myself pleading for his mercy. Though imperfect like us all, I couldn't think of single soul alive he hadn't served in some small or large way. That day I learned that service heals the heart and makes the atonement real because it offers the fullness of its fruits... seeing imperfect people through God's love. It was a lesson that Grandpa taught me and I am a change being for it. I can't thank him enough. Even as financially successful as he was, I swear he gave away his last dollar. His mother named him well... Edwin Gold... Because his heart was truly laced with Gold. He absolutely hated to watch people suffer and he would do everything in word and deed to pay off their car, their mortgage, their lunch bill, put to rest the bullying comments, buy a Christmas... you name it, he did it. Once a truck load of ice cream was rejected but the ice cream was good still. Grandpa called a few bishops in the area and the elders quorum presidents pulled up in their trucks and filled them with ice cream treats for the members who couldn't afford them. His service started young, paying for needs of siblings, offering jobs and then time spent fighting for our freedom in WWII. I have often asked for him to tell stories but he just got very quiet and smiled at me. He never wrote them down or spoke of it. In the not so recent past, my boys were at his house and chose to watch a National Geographic documentary on WWII. I didn't think of it, but Grampsydoodle was in the room in his chair... when I looked over at him he silently lay there looking at the ceiling with a single tear rolling down his cheek and his bottom lip quivering. I realized that the chosen program was very difficult and immediately had Mckay turn it off. His silence on the subject was never so loudly proclaimed. While serving every soul in the world, in a fight for freedom, a part of him died. Those memories on the battlefield forever changed him. This last year has been hard for Grandpa Bird... It has also been the hardest year of my life... Even in his quiet place he offered a refuge for me from people who were not kind and wisdom on how to overcome them. He offered us hope for Nate to live out his dreams in owning his own business. He and Grandma champion us at every turn... always positive... always helpful. Lessons I learned from watching my Grandpa Ed, being the recipient of his goodness, serving him and even in his graceful death and a life lived over 93 years are plenty and possibly too long to list... but here is a start: (1) sing in the morning (2) "people die in bed." (3) be happy! (4) "Save your money" (5) OPTIMISM is the key to a long life (6) be the first to forgive and never hold a grudge (7) there is a life lesson to learn from every good and bad situation. (8) serve like your life depends upon it. (9) give all and expect nothing in return (10) pay your bills. Early. (11) don't live beyond your means (12) work. work. work. (13) kindness softens the heart (14) say what needs to be said but skip the small talk (15) relationships are everything (16) even when you don't like what is going on, be graceful and have class (17) Live a life of acceptance of everyone No. Matter. What. (18) all you need is "a smile and a kind word" (19) don't procrastinate (20) be tough (21) Go to ball games (22) fish with your children and grandchildren and great grandchildren (23) visit your loved ones (24) keep things around the house that you don't use just for the grandkids (25) check your pride at the door (26) cancer is curable (27) if you break your neck you can still work (28) Don't get offended (29) find the good... there is some good in everyone. (30) tell your family you love them. While my heart is a little tender today as I think of so many lives long lived, I have a tremendous amount of gratitude for a loving Savior who felt it all. He did, in fact, overcome... even death... and so it is, until we meet again. Sure love you Grandpa. (picture above with Nate at the Diamond Backs World Series Game 7)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Understanding the struggle is part of what makes is so Beautiful!

Over the span of 4 years (actually a lifetime) I have been prompted on multiple occasions to keep a journal. I have volumes of journal. Mostly they have documented the happiest parts of my life and occasionally outlined a few lessons. I have never, however, written down the struggles in my life. I didn't want to think of my life in a that way. In the last 4 years I have learned how beautiful the struggle is though. I often wish I had written the hardest part of every journey because coming through the other side has been what has molded and shaped my very happy life. It has given me perspective, deeper love for mankind, compassion, empathy, patience, self esteem and an undeniable understanding of God's love for me and all of His children and more perspective on the glorious atonement that is absolutely mandatory in each of our lives. The struggle is what strengthened me, healed me and made me happier than I though possible in every word. Because if this, I have decided to take my 4 year journaling sabbatical to a close. I love my life! I love the visible mercy and love that falls upon it even during the hardest parts. I have decided to share it for two reasons; (1) I have felt prompted to do so, even if some of the contents may be uncomfortable for me to share or hard for others to accept. When prompted, I am learning to stop questioning and act in haste. (2) I hope that opening up to others in a world (made small by internet) that humankind can learn from each other. Take it or leave it... Some of these realizations are nearly half a decade old, some may be more recent and still there are those that make me realize that the Lord is not done with me... I am a constant work in progress. Years of digging has brought me to an understanding: TRIAL, TRIBULATION, ADVERSITY, and AFFLICTION are not all the same thing. I have often heard something to the effect that we chose our trials in the pre-existence. I'm not sure that is doctrine (Sometimes I think that is hogwash) but I am certain that we choose our trials here. Trials are brought on by the very consequences of our weaknesses and poor choices. For example; I choose to have financial problems because I didn't change the things I was taught before me, or I overspent etc. (whatever it is) OR I have no relationships with anyone because I choose to focus on negativity and their shortcomings rather than overcoming my own and serving those who need my help. You get the point. Think about it... Tribulation and adversity is different from trial. What about the earthquake that destroyed my neighborhood, the hurricane that broke my home, the tidal wave that obliterated my coast line and claimed the lives of my family? What about the years I spent unable to have children, the cancer that my daughter was born with? I certainly didn't choose that. It was an act of God... maybe a cleansing... maybe not. But it happened and I can be carried through it and learn things about myself because it is a struggle that Heavenly Father knows I can handle with His help. Affliction. And then there is that one guy who opted to make choices that inflicted a negative change on me. Abuse in every one of its detrimental forms, kidnappings, addictions which allow dark angels to control their body which in turn may do and say hurtful things to mine, teachings of self loathing ingrained upon our young minds, self pity stitched into the fabric that controls my young mind, his greed leading to taking advantage of... Well... take your pick there... He/she chose it and took it out on innocent me. Insert here: This is crap! But it happens to good people, to ancient prophets, to neighbors and friends and sometimes to us! DARN IT!!! But when I finally come through the other side of this, I have empathy to help another. I have knowledge that can make a difference. I am less judgmental. Would anyone sign up for such garbage? Heck NO! Would the Savior put us in that for a trial of our faith? ABSOLUTELY NO... NOT EVER! But He also won't take away another's agency. He can however heal every part of our wounds. The great lessons come from wading through "it" and finding the joy that the atonement offers in any of these situations. In our trials God will make weak things to be strong. We become more like Him. We have more understanding. The Almighty powerfully blesses us as we pick up the pieces of tribulations and help each other recover from losses that are sent our way. We learn about our strengths, loving another more than ourselves and the blessings that come as we depend more on God than the arm of the flesh. We are more like Him. He will show Himself every second of every day if we are willing to look for Him. Even though Heavenly Father will not take away the agency of one to choose wrong, It certainly does not mean that He condones it, it is not a trial we chose or tribulation from Him. It is a simply a choice made by one who chooses evil and inflicts it upon another. Even still, Heavenly Father will mercilessly carry us. The Savior's atonement will still heal us in any of these situations. The very Gods of Heaven will cheer us on to overcome every evil and natural man choice of this mortality. In the process we learn some empathy, have the potential to partner with the angels who are carrying others in these same situations and to have a greater understanding of agency and the blessing of it as it divides good and evil by our own choices. Undoubtedly, My favorite part of it all is that the Christ, omnipotent, can make right any of these situations. We are His work and His glory and He is 100% of the time successful. Allowing Him to take over is the hard part for all the thick heads that live on earth. Understanding these things has made me so happy because I know that even when its hard, Heaven will lead and guide me if I want these things in my life.

Monday, October 28, 2013


I love spring. Actually, I love spring in Arizona, USA! The desert is in bloom, the weather is absolute perfection! Spring baseball makes me feel like I'm on an eternal vacation and the flowers dance all day long! When I was at Utah State I remember one spring when the sky seemed so gray still, the snow would fly and melt into a slush puddle and mud seemed to goo onto everything every. day. !! I thought I would die! Where were the flowers? Why weren't the flowers out? I had no idea about spring fever until that spring... and I'm telling you... I had never wanted to see the sun so badly in all my life! I begged the trees to sprout out the buds. And then I did what any psycho college girl would do... I got in my car and I drove 14 hours to Arizona to feel the spring on what I thought was a spring deprived body! And there beheld my eyes, Spring! Buds, baby ducks paddling in the canals, baby birds crying out for food all day long and Flowers! Flowers everywhere! Seriously, I love spring!
I love summer. I love it anywhere in the world! No schedule other than play and swim. Sleeping in! Hot days that seem endless and the ever presence of Sunshine that blazes upon my skin. Beach trips, vacations to see family. Boating at the lake. 4th of July fireworks and parades. So many BBQ's and parties that one seems to join another... Hiking in the mountains. Air conditioning. Lots of time to run as many miles as long as my legs can go. Vegetable gardens! Bless the endless fresh tomatoes, corn on the cob and watermelon! No sickness. Ever! I could live an entire life long in the summer. I am forever in love with summer!
I love Autumn. It is, after all, the best time to be born! I love the vivid reds and yellows and oranges! I love the crispy air. I totally felt like I was in a bit of a story book when I lived in Poland and every day I watched the farmers pile up their remaining food, plow for the next spring and then build big piles of sticks and leaves and burn them! The air constantly smelled chilly and smoky. That smell of American football in the air whisks me back to a very happy childhood when Saturday was filled with college football games with my dad and brothers. I totally love Autumn!
I love the winter. I especially love winter in the mountains in Utah! I love it when there is a pile of snow so deep that you are certain you will never see the frozen ground below it! I love it when the animals come down out of the mountains looking for food. I am smitten by the glistening over the earth of sunshine on the snow. I love curling up by the fire with a mug of hot chocolate. I love making soup for dinner. I totally dig the holidays full of family and time to reflect on the blessings that fill my life and then the celebration of the Savior's birth. I get a huge kick out of a new year, setting new goals and starting a diet that lasts just long enough to drop the 10 pounds that I packed on from the neighbors Christmas goody deliverings. My life is full of good memories from years spent at the family cabin in bear lake where we would snow mobile for days on end through the mountains and over the ice. .. and then come home to late nights with games and movies. I just love winter!
I totally dig October! By October, School is proving to be in full swing. Brains are working hard! By the time October hits, new schedules are followed to perfection again. The good memories of summer are still carrying happy moods and the holidays start. Let's face it! Halloween decorations are the very best! Sometimes, I close my eyes and think of the decoration boxes in the storage unit full of my Halloween decor! it makes me happy! I get so excited when I see the posts of friends who have spiced up their houses with banners and pumpkins galore! While spring brings forth new life to the earth and then summer allows you live it, autumn is a definite reminder of the eminent death and cold that is coming... October is this month for me. I have to make it a point every day to focus on the beautiful fall colors and the smells of crisp air and football games and then pull forth the memories of looking out over endless miles of snow that seems to be powdered with glitter and diamonds... And when I do, the Octobers of my life continue to bless me. I am enamored by October because it reminds me to look forward to what good is to come. I am blessed by October because I can happily reminisce of the many Octobers that I have come through even in short, dark days and chilly weather. And I find a treasure trove of tender mercies when in the darkened short days of October, holidays begin to appear every few weeks. Dear October, I haven't forgotten that I sure do love you!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


We have some friends. Actually, I have been blessed with the greatest friends life has ever offered. On Saturday, two of them said goodbye to England and they are off onto their next adventure.
Just months ago I didn't even know Ryanne and Ben Roberts... (Ben and Ryanne: AKA BRyanne) I had never seen them or even heard of them but Ben and Mr. Mecham are employed by the same hand. We were fortunate to have them land on the same island as us to build up a dome and the Mechams (from the top to bottom) fell in love with BRyanne. Her first few days in England, Ryanne and I cleaned out a property to ready it for another incoming family. I learned, in that time, that Ryanne was not only a fellow Arizonan, but that she was a delight to work with. I think it was all the sun she intook at a young age! She spread it like I've never known another being on earth to spread such sunshine! One morning, while the children were at school, Ryanne came by to check her emails as she didn't have internet at her house yet. It was like having one of the fam over. I took a little nap and then she made fun of me for sleeping. She is quick to crack funnies! I realized early on that Ryanne would feel the void of my sisters. Last February we issued the ultimate test in friendship... we took Ryanne with us to France. She bunked with Bailey and we held her hostage for an entire week. That trip ranked upon the "funnest list" of vacations! Ryanne brought her sunshine and scattered it into the rain all week. To say she is optimistic and happy is a dull expression of how cheerful and jubilant she really is. Ryanne made a lasting impression to overcome adversity in McKay that no other person has ever been able to inspire. She lifted Bailey to lighten up her mood and be cheerful no matter what. She matched Cole's impeccable ability to love anyone. She made Mr. Mecham and me want to be better and love everything life offers us. Every one in life should be so lucky. And then there is Ben. I tell you, they are one of Heaven's best match-ups, indeed! If you close your eyes and imagine the kindest heart that ever lived on earth one could find Ben there! He lives his life close to the spirit and is ever so gentle. The Mechams can think of lists of benevolent ways to verbally paint a true picture of Ben, but he does it best: Nate spent the most time with him at work. He reported, nearly every day, how Ben unabashedly stood his ground with all his virtues. Impressively, he did it in such a manner that it makes him more respected and loved. McKay thinks Ben is a hero! Anyone who knows McKay also knows that he finds the quiet corners of life and sits back to observe... Though it keeps him out of trouble, it isn't necessarily the funnest place to be as one can easily be forgotten there. Ben looks for people to love in quiet corners. Then he treats them like they were the coolest and most popular stud to ever live... and then brings them into the crowd where others treat them the same. I have seen him do it, not only to McKay, but to many others. Its like magic! For showing his love to my children and honoring every single person for the good in them, I see a unique and rare quality that reminds me much of the Savior in every way. Needless to say, we feel it a tremendous blessing to rub shoulders with such people. As we will miss BRyanne like crazy, we find a great comfort knowing that there is a CHANCE that we will get to be put on another job with them. And like all of our many friends who touch our hearts in much the same ways, we know we will see them again... on fb or a blog or insta-gram... and if we're really lucky in person! Our gratitude runneth over to the Roberts and to all of our friends who keep in touch, who welcome us quickly in our new homes, and to those who live in the happiest places of our hearts. While life sure is fun, its the relationships and kindesses extended to our family that fill it up and make it most worth our time. We love you.

Monday, October 7, 2013

lets try this again... and again... until we get it right.

This past weekend I watched a lot of conference. It inspired me on a million levels... One of which, to journal again. So since my life is blessed in the most significant ways, I will try this again... and probably again. Here goes... a little recap of the past week and some of the last month... and an unforgettable summer.
Dustin Stibal works with Nate. His lovely wife, Cristy, is my friend. They have flown the coup and entrusted me with the care of their 4 children for a few days. Their children are beyond obedient, incredibly easy going and astoundingly self motivated. I am learning a lot about ways that I can encourage my own children to be successful in life from the way that they conduct theirs.
Meet this total stud, Skyler. He belongs to the lucky Stibals. I have forgotten what a treat it is to have little people in my house. The ease and convenience of older and more independent children makes life physically a cake walk. But to remember how innocent and sweet a little body who needs you to help change a shirt, who winces while washing the soap out his hair and who is so quick to cuddle up... a warm body who admittedly needs you... it warms my heart. This little man is shear pleasure in every way. I forgot what little man poo breath smells like first thing in the morning, how nice it is to have a little person body slam you without notice and how simple their problems are even though they seem like immovable mountains. Little people are cool. Behold your little ones.
over a year ago I posted my goodbyes to Elder Kennedy. I was so sad to see him leaving my area in Poland. Since that time we were able to hike with him in the mountains of Utah while he was delivering his brother to the MTC... that was last summer. Then again, just last week, Ethan came to visit us! The Mechams consider this one of God's tender mercies. Its a reminder that goodbyes are never final. I always knew this kid would go far in life. Undoubtedly he will. He is studying abroad this summer in Brussels and engaged to one lucky lady (to be married this winter). Since he is just a skip away, he honored us by giving up an entire weekend to hang out in England with us.
Pawel, a friend of Ethan's and ours from Poland, also joined us while Ethan was visiting England. We hiked around the ever beautiful Malham Cove and took a load of pictures! Pawel was baptized while we lived in Poland. He has since moved 2 hours south of us here in England. It was such a fun reunion with both of them.
The week before Ethan came out, Lisa made the long journey to visit us! Though she travels often with her work, this was her first visit out of the USA. She timed it to coincide with our holiday in Europe. We had not planned on going Paris, but it was OH SO CLOSE and Lisa's lifelong dream! We surprised Weezer (McKay's nick name for this lovely lady) by telling her that we were "going to Rheims but that we didn't have time to go into Paris" and then just before we walked up to the Eifel tower we told her where we really were. I do not have words to describe how fun it was to see the shock on her face! I will blog about this later. It was unforgettable!!!
Prior to Paris, we spent two weeks traveling across Europe. We went to Germany, Czech Republic, Poland and Austria. Salzburg, Austria was (HANDS DOWN) my most favorite place! There were countless amazing sites and photographs, food and people, history and culture at every turn along the journey... but PLEASE let me breath another day in Salzburg before I die! OH!! That place!!! One of Heaven's masterpieces! I don't have the vernacular to describe my love for the beauty that mine eyes beheld in Austria.
We also took Lisa to London with the Yowards. We hit all the big sites and the temple. I have to admit, London is pretty great. Every time I go down there, I become a little more fond of it uniqueness. This trip, the company was impressive! Sometimes when I consider how cheated I would have been had I not met the Yowards I recognize that a loving Heavenly Father really does want us to fill our lives with Joy and unmeasured happiness. How on earth could I have lived all my life without a little Mayan Yoward in it? Happiness is friends who are more like family and a confirmation that you KNEW them long before mortality. How does my pool of friends like this keep getting bigger? I must be the luckiest person alive!!!
speaking of Cool Cats... This kid (Mayan and Andrew's youngest) is a TON of fun! I dig his happy demeanor, his enthusiasm for life and the fact that he is my favorite age; 2. I could hang with him all day! He is learning to talk, (everyone knows how fun it is to have little kids say something over and over... ) he has a determination that (undoubtedly) will take him to the top of success ladders and the boingiest curls any kid ever had while running! EVERYTHING about him is a treat!
We had a busy summer and one of the funnest for the record books. Before Ethan came Lisa and before Lisa came Marci & CO. for 6 awesome weeks through June and July! That girl has energy like NO other! If there was a single rock unturned in England, I don't know where. We traveled from Scotland to Lands end and swung by Venice, Italy in between! I slept for two days after they left but the memories of their visit are still so fresh and exciting in my mind. I will have to journal about the summers of my life at some point... This one will go down as one of the most memorable and in its most simple form, the best! ******************************************************************** While I have been blessed with a ton of company and more travel than ever before in my life, It has made one thing absolutely concrete in my mind and heart; Heavenly Father's hand made creations, His gospel, the relationships I have with family and friends and the memories I create with them are among the greatest treasure I have. I will be ever thankful for the blessings that pour upon my little family.